This Supergirl review contains spoilers.
Supergirl Episode 19
So, “Myriad” is a particularly strange case. This is definitely one of the better episodes of the season. There’s no doubt about that. But I wonder if some of what I like about it is just a result of how completely it deviated from the show’s formula for so much of its run time. It was so refreshing that it made me not really care about some of the conveniences that might otherwise bug me.
For example, I tried not to think too hard about how a stronger villain arc this year would have helped. Supergirl definitely had a course correction back when Astra was killed. I know the showrunners will probably say that was always part of the plan, but I don’t know if I buy it. Astra simply wasn’t a strong enough villainous presence. I’m still not sure Non is, either, mind you, but he’s an improvement, especially with Indigo at his side. I just feel like the whole Myriad thing would have a lot more weight if we had a better idea of what the stakes were all season long, and I think that the aimlessness of the baddies for much of the season is hurting what is otherwise a solid setup for the finale.
Non has gone from moustache-twirling alien baddie to “we’re doing this for your own good” and back again, even possibly in the course of this episode. I’m not sure what to make of all that. I was about to give the show a hard time for doing the tired old “hero’s choice” dilemma thing, until I realized that in this case, Kara’s choice meant that someone wasn’t gonna make it. It’s so rare that this show illustrates a casual disregard for human life that once I realized “Kelly” was going to actually hit the sidewalk it was a genuine shock.
I don’t think this was a cheap tactic, either. We’ve seen Kara fail on all kinds of levels this season, but this is the first time her failure is directly related to specific choices she made. Kara’s decision to underestimate Non allowed him to put her in this position, and she actively made a decision to save the people she cares deeply about over someone else. I don’t think they’re going to gloss this over, either. I suspect this specific moment, more than any number of others, will fuel Kara into the next episode, and hopefully into next season, too.
But that aside, here’s why I’m on board for what’s happening, and why it’s such a smart way to end this season. We’ve already seen this show prove over and over again that it can deliver big, appropriately Kryptonian action. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of that in the finale, too. But the key to this is that whatever raw power Kara ultimately has to unleash is going to be secondary to the real problem she has to solve. Saving National City (not to mention her friends and family) isn’t a problem that Kara can solve by punching things, and that always makes for the best Super-stories.
I mean, holy moley, even Maxwell Lord wasn’t terrible this episode. Alright, except for the part where he made a “kumbaya” reference. “Kumbaya” jokes as lazy shorthands for “we’re friends now” or whatever the hell they’re supposed to be need to be retired from pretty much everything effective immediately.
I’m on the fence about the “inclusion” of Superman, though. Do we really need him here to raise the stakes further? It’s a little cheap, especially moments after we learned he was off planet dealing with another matter. They can’t keep playing the shadow in the distance with a cape thing and expect it to keep making an impact. Not a single viewer was fooled for a second into thinking we would actually meet this world’s Man of Steel this week, and it ain’t happening next week, either. Stop it.
And they got me with the J’onn and Alex stuff. It seriously took all season, but I’m sold. I don’t need either of these characters to be this season’s sacrificial sendoffs, though, so I hope nobody in that writers’ room has been getting any bright ideas.
By the way, did anyone once again get the feeling that Supergirl is once again taking shots at Batman v Superman and the entirely unheroic superhero worldview that film takes? It feels like every rationalization out of Maxwell Lord’s mouth is like something we’ve heard out of Zack Snyder to explain the extraordinarily weird decisions made in that film. It’s like Supergirl is actively doing its best to refute the DC Movie Universe. I’m sure everyone involved will deny it, of course. Seriously, when Kara asks “how did you become like this?” I’m not imagining this.
Kryptonian Memory Crystals
– There was a minor DC Comics hero named Myriad, but trust me, that’s now who they’re referring to with this episode title.
– okay, I was psyched as hell to see Eve Torres as Maxima tonight, and she was absolutely perfect. But seriously. Why was she here? Did they just need to fill an extra couple of minutes or something?
Nevertheless, let’s talk about Maxima for a second.
Maxima was created by Roger Stern and George Perez during what is basically my favorite era of Superman comics (1986-1994…Maxima first appeared in 1989). She’s a princess of Almerac, a warrior badass, and she has a thing for wanting to breed superior warrior children with Superman, hence her amusing comment that Kara deemed “gross.”
Also, when Maxima jokes about how “that tickled” it’s a pretty standard superhero reference to things that would turn you or me into roadkill but doesn’t affect them. But it always reminds me of this classic Golden Age Superman image from the cover of Superman #32 in the 40s…
– When Kelex (give it up for Kelex, ladies and gents!) tells Kara that Superman is “offworld” that’s kind of a Supergirl joke. See, when the Supergirl movie from the early ’80s was made, and since Christopher Reeve wasn’t gonna show up as Superman, Kara overhears a radio broadcast that explains how Superman is off on a mission in space, and thus won’t be around to make an appearance in her movie.
– The whole Myriad thing with the employees at Catco being happily zombified reminds me a little bit of Hexus “the living corporation” from Grant Morrison and JG Jones (wonderful, essential) Marvel Boy comic.
– Cat’s joke about refusing to date Harrison Ford is priceless. Calista Flockhart is indeed married to Harrison Ford.
– Non is sure talking like General Zod these days. The whole “son of Jor-El” kneel before me thing is something we heard an awful lot of in Superman II.
– Although, Non also sounds faintly like former Pink Floyd bass player Roger Waters. He’s ummmm…progressive to a fault, and he has little use for human follies. He also makes a reference to humanity “amusing themselves to death.” Media theorist Neil Postman wrote an excellent little book called Amusing Ourselves to Death back in 1985, which seems more relevant now than it ever did 30 years ago. Roger Waters then adapted some of the themes of that book as the basis for his best/most listenable solo album, Amused to Death.
– Had to dig Indigo’s Terminator 2 homage, walking through the flames before skewering J’onn. I hope he knocks the hell out of her next week.
If I missed any cool DC or Superman references, drop ’em in the comments or holler at me on Twitter!